How long does it take you to fall asleep? Have a habit of hitting ‘snooze’ more than twice?
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 50-70 million adults in the United States suffer from sleep disorders, including insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and more.
Disorder or no, insufficient sleep can cause problems with your health, relationships, and overall well-being.
If you’re tired of feeling tired, try these surefire methods to improve your sleep hygiene.
How To Develop Good Sleep Hygiene
Avoid Exercising Too Closely to Bedtime
While regular exercise can improve sleep, exercising too close to bedtime can increase energy levels late at night, delaying your sleep. Instead, schedule workouts at least three hours before bedtime.
Are you a student or work full-time? All’s not lost. Get into the habit of sleeping earlier so you can hit the gym as soon as 4-5 AM.
Just have all your equipment ready in a bag before bedtime, or arrange to work from the comfort of your own home.
Download apps like Seven, designed to play guided workouts wherever, whenever. The convenience of these apps make it possible to throw in a workout or two when you can.
Watch What You Eat
Hear your tummy rumbling? Don’t starve it.
Give yourself a small snack, but just stay away from binge eating and encore dining. Late-night meals can affect your sleep hygiene tremendously.
While you don’t want to force sleep on an empty stomach, change the pattern of eating meals and heavy snacks too late in the day, as lying down after a heavy meal can cause heartburn or an upset stomach.
Watch What You Drink
Avoid late-night alcohol consumption. While alcoholic beverages are typically sedatives, they can disrupt your quality of sleep, waking you up in the middle of the night.
It doesn’t matter if you get your eight hours when they are hardly restful.
Along with alcohol, avoid caffeine and nicotine too late into the day. Like exercise, these stimulants will increase your energy levels, making it harder for you to fall and stay asleep.
Lights Out – Phones Down
Give yourself at least one hour of screen-free time to wind down before hitting the hay.
Yes, you hold your smartphone near and dear, but putting it down for an hour won’t kill you. The fact is: it’s nearly impossible to associate your bed with good sleep when scanning your phone.
According to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, “The body’s master clock controls the production of melatonin, a hormone that makes you sleepy. It receives information about incoming light from the optic nerves, which relay information from the eyes to the brain. When there is less light—like at night—the SCN (the suprachiasmatic nucleus) tells the brain to make more melatonin so you get drowsy.”
Simply put, the light from your phone literally translates to your brain that it’s still daytime. The habit of scanning your phone right before it’s time to sleep is the opposite of promoting good sleep hygiene.
Sure, you can opt to dim your screen, but on another note, the internet is rife with media alerts. By staring into your screen, at the countless ads and social alerts, you are literally signalling to your brain that it’s time to stay up.
It’s called lights-out for a reason. Let yourself relax.
Relaxing to Promote Your Sleep Hygiene
Is checking your phone already a part of your bedtime routine? Try kicking the habit by replacing it with a new relaxing one, like a warm bath or cuddling a pet.
Maintain your sleep hygiene by scheduling your relaxation activity as a part of your daily to-do’s to signify its importance to you. Keep it up – and winding down eventually becomes as routine like brushing your teeth.
Play around with what works for you. Are you an auditory person? You can incorporate activities such as listening to your favourite soothing songs or a guided meditation. Find skin care relaxing? Try face masks and exfoliation.
This part is all about exercising a habit to your tastes that improves your sleep hygiene. As long as your replacement activity is safe and can be done in a dimly lit room, you’re on your way to good sleep hygiene.
Can’t Relax? Count Your Sheep.
Winding down does not come naturally to everyone.
If you’re prone to ruminating, give stream-of-consciousness writing a try. Think of it as catching your passing thoughts, placing them onto something concrete (paper), and putting them away.
Place the piece of paper under a book or at the top of a shelf – you’ll get to it tomorrow. Stream-of-consciousness writing before bed is essentially an advanced version of counting sheep.
Count “sheep,” get them settled in the barn, and catch some Z’s.
Set Your Bedtime To Up Your Sleep Hygiene
In order to maintain good sleep hygiene with the activities above in place, you must have a set bedtime.
Consider your schedule, pick a time, and stick with it.
Once you decide on a set bedtime, everything else will fall into place. Take this mock to-do list for example.
Need to be up by 6 AM (gym time)? Then it’s a good idea to sleep by 10 PM. Perfect. Now you know when down time is: 9 PM. Great, that leaves 6-9PM for dinner and leisure.
- 6 AM: Exercise
- 8 AM-5 PM: Work
- 6 PM: Surf the web
- 7 PM: Dinner
- 8 PM: Family time
- 9 PM: Down time
- 10 PM: Bedtime
With these seven tips, you are more organized and less prone to overwork, overindulge, and sabotage your energy for the next day.
Excellent sleep hygiene is life-changing because you have access to your peak mental capacity. All it takes is determination and a little foresight to achieve it.
Here’s a video demonstrating some steps for good sleep hygiene.
Let us know, what do you do to keep good sleep hygiene?